Summary: All of us want to know what the future holds for us. But the Bible teaches that we walk by faith, not by sight. The future at times looks very tense, especially if we do not include God in our planning. He must be involved in every detail of life.
In the film Back to the Future, Michael Fox plays the role of a guy named Marty MacFly who suddenly is thrown back into time 30 years earlier. Because he knows what the future hold for his family he feels compelled to make sure things happen the way they are supposed to. His future Mom and Dad actually now go to high school with him so he makes sure that they go to the prom together and fall in love with each other. It was the most successful movie of the year in 1985. How many of you have seen it?
The movie has prompted other shows such as a TV series called "Early Edition." Did you ever watch it? I only saw a few programs, but its storyline was about a young man who somehow was able to read tomorrow’s newspaper today. In other words, he was able to know what was going to happen a day before it actually happened. So let me ask you a question. If you were suddenly thrown back in time and you were able to know what was going to happen before it happened, what would you do? How would you use that knowledge? If you knew where the winning lottery ticket was going to be sold, would you go there to hopefully buy it? If you knew that the stock market was going to go up, would you buy low & sell high, & make a lot of money? if you knew that someone was going to be in trouble & needed help, would you run to help them? Maybe you would be a hero. You knew someone was in danger & would die, would you be there to prevent that from happening? What would you do if you knew what was going to happen tomorrow?
Many people today are obsessed with the idea of trying to learn the future. They look into crystal balls, read tea leaves, & check their horoscope. I saw a fortune cookie this week and the note inside said, don’t believe what fortune cookies tell you. They got it right. The truth is, none of us really knows the future here upon this earth. And that is exactly what James is saying to us in this passage today.
Dwight Pentecost was a long time faculty member at Dallas Seminary. He is considered to be one of the premier scholars on the subject of Bible prophecy. He stated that when he would speak on some subject other than prophecy the attendance was always lower. But if he spoke on prophecy it would be higher. He stated that he had made a study of the NT of every reference to the 2nd coming of Christ and in every passage he was reminded that as believers our first priority is not to know WHEN Jesus sis coming back; remember that while on earth Jesus said He didn’t even know. Our first priority is to live a holy life. Knowing the future is not nearly as important as being prepared for the future.
In this passage today we find a story that deals with the future and it tells the story of a businessman who was making plans but he was going about it in the wrong way. And there are several mistakes he made.
The first mistake he made is that he failed to include God in his planning. V. 13
Now remember James is the one speaking here and he is speaking directly to the people in Jerusalem but he is also speaking directly to anyone who refuses to include God in his/her plans. In other words he’s talking to you and me. James is not telling us that this man is defying God ….in other words he’s not rebelling. Rather he is disregarding God. It is this attitude of being self-sufficient. This happens with no believers every day but it should never happen with us as believers—but the truth is we disregard God all of the time. James says to those who do this, “Come now.” Today we would say… come on now… you can do better than that! James is saying, take a 2nd look at your priorities and you need to reexamine your life. Because what this individual is saying here is this; I not only know what the future holds for me but I also have complete control over the future. They have decided on
A precise time--- today or tomorrow
A particular place—such a city
How long they will stay—will spend a year
Planned their activity---carry on business; buy and sell
Planned the outcome—they will make dollars/money
So they have selected a time, place, length of their stay, their activity and the outcome and they have done all of it without even asking God for His opinion. And that is the way many of us plan our lives. That is mistake #1.